The Secret World Of Botox
As Botox continues to grow by around 20% every year in Northern Ireland, a top Belfast practitioner reveals all you need to know...
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It's old hat for Hollywood A-listers and Chelsea poshos, but as ever, Belfast has taken its time catching up.
At last, for good or bad, it looks like we're getting there with Botox.
According to industry insiders the number of people in Northern Ireland getting the treatment has soared into the thousands, with an ongoing rise of around 20% year on year.
And Dr Mervyn Patterson, who has more than 20 years experience in the industry, says it shows no signs of slowing down.
"The numbers just keep rising," says Dr Patterson, from Woodford Medical Clinic.
“We’re treating more and more people, and the levels of interest are growing."
So who is getting the treatment?
"Who isn't?" says Dr Patterson. "It's literally anyone from the Minister's wife to the businesswoman or the cashier in Asda.
"We traditionally imagine its people with a lot of money but in reality it is very ordinary people who simply scrimp and save to get it done.
"It's a priority for them so they make sure they have the money, around £350 for a treatment.
"You'll get women saving up their supermarket vouchers, and gathering that cash up for their next treatment.
"We also get some men, not as many, but that number is growing too."
The age range varies greatly.
"We have a couple of clients in their 20s," says Dr Patterson, "women who have very deep lines because they've been scowling since they were children. But I'd draw the line at giving Botox to someone under 20.
"By far the most popular age is mid to late 40s and on into 50s. I also have one woman in her late 70s who comes to me."
Dr Patterson says one huge difference between patients in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is their desire for discretion.
"People here do NOT like to discuss their Botox openly," he says. "They want an extremely subtle look, which is the best Botox look anyway, but in general they'd be mortified if anyone thought they'd had it done.
"In the UK, around 80% of people find out about clinics through word of mouth recommendations. Here, it's practically nil because people just don't talk about it. Instead, they discreetly do a Google search and sort it out by themselves.
"They want people to think they've slept well, they've relaxed on holiday, and they've simply lost a bit of the strained look in their face.
"That's the natural, optimum look you'll get from Botox and that's what the best practitioners will try to get."
Dr Patterson has some hilarious anecdotes about just how discreet his clients like to be.
"In most cases they won't even tell their other halves they're getting Botox," he says.
"A huge number of our files say: 'DO NOT CALL ME AT HOME' on them. They would be mortified if their husbands or boyfriends - and in some cases wives and girlfriends - found out. Instead, they'll say they're off for a facial, come back looking refreshed and the partners are none the wiser."
And the secrecy isn't just between men and women.
"We once had quite an embarrassing incident when two sisters in their 40s bumped into each other in the waiting room," says Dr Patterson "One had been coming to us for years, and the other was on her first visit. They had to confess all to each other about having Botox - they were able to see the funny side later on."
Woodford Medical's Top Tips
1. Do your research
Do some reading about Botox to find out exactly what it is and how it works so your expectations are realistic.
2. Take your time
Make sure you get a proper consultation with a practitioner before you go ahead. If you feel rushed at all, or they start pushing you with different sales pitches, this might not be the practitioner for you.
The first consultation should be just that - don't expect to have the actual treatment that day. You'll want before pictures to be taken so you can assess how effective it is afterwards.
3. Keep it up
Once you've had your first treatment, expect to see your practitioner again after two weeks, then again at a month. They need to see it's settling in OK and adjust it if necessary.
I'm afraid some people who offer Botox say it'll last longer than it will, that you'll only need it done every six months. In reality, it starts to go on the wane after three months so you do need to keep it up a bit more frequently.
Every three months will mean you keep ahead of it, it doesn't start to fail and you maintain it rather than have a constant up and down transformation.
4. Build a relationship
I would always recommend going to someone who specialises in aesthetics treatments, rather than someone who has tagged Botox on to another profession.
As far as I'm concerned, it really is practice makes perfect with Botox and the more treatments a practitioner does, the better they are at it.
However, if you've started treatment with someone and are happy with how it's going, it does pay to build a relationship with them.
That way they get to know your skin and as long as they keep a clear record of all your treatments you will be going in the right direction. Stick with them, direct them in how you like the effect to look and you should get into a good routine.
To book your appointment or consultation for Botox with our experienced Doctors please contact us.